The year 2014 saw several interesting developments within the IT space, from the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the growth of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, to a growing interest in the cloud within the South African market. One thing that is clear is that IT is here to stay, and remains critical to the long-term success of any business now and in the future. As a result, IT Service Management (ITSM) is becoming an increasingly important tool for ensuring that IT is able to effectively support the business and deliver the required services - both internally and externally.
However, an on-going lack of understanding of ITSM and its impact on business, as well as a perception of Service Management as an insurmountable obstacle, have hindered the effectiveness of ITSM in 2014. Tackling this challenge in 2015 and unlocking the potential value of Service Management requires a mind-set shift towards an attitude of continual service improvement. This will enable organisations to leverage the advantages of ITSM to improve their business and enhance competitiveness in an increasingly challenging market.
In our experience, one of the key challenges affecting the market today is a distinct lack of ‘understanding’ of what Service Management actually is and what it means for business. There is an on-going perception that a service desk equates to Service Management. However, the service desk is a component of Service Management. Service Management is a business asset that needs to be developed, as it delivers a strong assurance that IT is delivering quality services to its customers, whether these are internal to the organisation or external.
This perception problem comes down to a lack of education – although thousands of people complete the ITIL Foundation course, very few of them progress to intermediate levels, which is where the full meaning of Service Management becomes clear. In addition, organisations remain hesitant to embark on ITIL adoptions, as there is an on-going belief that it will be an enormous cost centre while delivering very little benefit, as has traditionally been the case.
The challenge is that Service Management is seen as an insurmountable obstacle, a job that is so big that organisations do not know where to start, and one that will cost too much to achieve the end goal, which will erode the benefits. This again is a result of a continuing lack of understanding, as well as a history of vendors selling immature solutions, which required significant customisation and environmental development. This has extended deployment time frames to an extent that has increased costs significantly while failing to deliver value.
CEO of Marval UK, Don Page, believes that ensuring that quality compliance and governance is in place will be key for the year ahead: “The focus is now on cost and resource accountability, and in an effort to improve efficiency, we will see an increased exploitation of customer web self-service to improve customer service and reduce costs. With the exploitation of web based software we can also expect a greater take up of ISO 27001, combined with formal penetration testing to ensure organisational and customer confidence in the ICT infrastructure.”
Creating a loop of continuous improvement is essential in addressing the current and future challenges of ITSM. If organisations can develop a mind-set of process, feedback and improvement with regards to service delivery, half of the battle is already won. Communication is essential in creating this reinforced feedback loop – organisations need to understand what the customer needs, provide a solution to that need, and deliver information through the customer’s preferred channel. Service Management requires organisations to understand the underlying causes behind problems in order to provide information and input that will actively address issues. The drive should be focused on proper problem management and problem solving integrating the triumvirate of people, process and technology.
The key to continual service improvement is to understand the desired future state of service delivery, know how you are going to get there, and then measure progress in order to improve. Continual service improvement is essential in moving IT service delivery from a reactive environment to one that proactively manages issues, which in turn improves planning, resource control, efficiency, effectiveness and ultimately the bottom line.